Today was the Santa Ride South, starting in Farnborough and heading out past Lasham and back on a 56 mile loop.
As usual, I’d travelled down the day before but when I arrived I saw a text from my Sportive riding mate Andy saying the event had been cancelled. I checked my emails and Facebook and sure enough, it had as the weather for the time of the event was forecast to be winds gusting up to 40mph and heavy rain. Drat!
I wondered if I could ride it anyway as I was in the area and it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity of a ride, especially when home was covered in snow and there was no snow here. I decided to leave it until the morning and play it by ear, while continually checking the weather forecasts on several different apps (no two apps ever seem to agree on the weather!).
In the morning, as forecast, it was absolutely chucking it down when I woke up but undeterred I checked the updated forecast on my apps. BBC was still showing gusting up to 41mph at midday but other apps, like the excellent Dark Sky, were showing less wind.
I decided to give it a go and take my bike lock with me so if it became unrideable, I could chain my bike up somewhere safe, get a taxi back to Farnborough and return in the Jeep to pick my bike up. First, though I had a leisurely breakfast and fuelled myself up for the ride (plus I was ravenous anyway for some reason!).
I headed off, suitably attired for a very wet ride and was thinking the wind really was not bad at all. In fact, for the first 10 miles, there really was not much wind, but that soon changed as the eye of the storm approached!
As I passed Odiham RAF base, the crosswind really was making me feel uncomfortable. I soldiered on slowly as I knew I was about to enter Odiham village and some shelter from the houses and then right after the village the route turned westwards, directly into the wind. Heading into a strong wind is much easier (!) than dealing with that kind of crosswind!
On the quieter country lanes, the terrain started to get pretty undulating and I noticed that at the bottom dip of every hill the roads were all flooded and I needed to carefully ford the water with my bike. My average speed suffered somewhat from this as I had to be pretty slow going down hills just in case there was another stretch of water to ford round the next corner.
As I reached the lovely village of Preston Candover I realised I was at the very far end of the Epic route and that I would be soon turning back towards Farnborough and have the wind pretty much behind me. This part of the course looked familiar too as it was the reverse of the top end of the fab Mega Meon sportive I did in the summer.
The journey back was pretty much uneventful apart from a fallen tree blocking the road near Lower Froyle. I easily carried my bike round it but I saw several cars have to turn round as there was no way past for them.
All too soon I was re-joining a familiar looking road as the route in to and out of Farnborough shared the same road. The run in to the finish line was on busier roads and much faster as I could get up a head of steam without having to worry too much about debris.
I rode down to where the event HQ was to be and loved the garden with the frame of what looks to be an old airship hanger as it’s centrepiece. It was then a short ride back to the pub where I’d parked the Jeep.
I headed into the pub for coffee and some food and to warm up before tackling the snowy roads home. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend away, even though it did not quite pan out as I was expecting. The memories it made will last a lifetime though :).
Route: click here